Unstable paradise of French Polynesia elects veteran

6th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

Voters in French Polynesia elected the party of political veteran Gaston Flosse, preliminary results showed Monday, amid anger over unemployment in the Pacific paradise.

Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira party came ahead of pro-independence incumbent Oscar Temaru, who had confused voters by trying to register Polynesia on the UN's list of Non-Self-Governing Territories -- a list of nations that the international body considers as colonised.

The French territory, which enjoys a high degree of autonomy, has seen 13 different governments rule in quick succession since 2004 when Temaru first came to power.

Flosse's party won just over 45 percent of votes in the second round of territorial elections that took place Sunday and aim to select 57 representatives in the Assembly of French Polynesia, who will in turn pick the president.

Temaru's UPLD won just over 29 percent of the vote, and Teva Rohfritsch, another candidate who used to have a close relationship with Flosse, got 25.6 percent.

The final, official results of the election, which saw nearly three quarters of voters turn up, will be announced at 0300 GMT on Tuesday.

Temaru and Flosse have largely dominated French Polynesia's political landscape since 2004. The former was president five times during that time, and the 81-year-old Flosse twice.

The victory of Flosse, an old friend of former French president Jacques Chirac, is a significant defeat for Temaru, who is seen as paying for the territory's dramatic economic and social crisis.

Unemployment in the territory, which has a population of 270,000, is estimated to be around 20 to 30 percent, and a fifth of the population lives below the poverty line.

Flosse -- who ruled French Polynesia for 13 years until 2004 -- is not without his own problems, having been charged recently in corruption cases.

© 2013 AFP

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